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My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith

BEYOND SLAPPING!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 12-14-2020

If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. . . . And if you lend money . . . . Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.” (Luke 6:29-30, 34-35 NLT).

In France, due to my not knowing the culture, a man slapped my face because he thought I had insulted him.  I was not expecting his reaction, and although it stung, I did deserve it.  He left, so I did not turn the other cheek.  Later I did think about what Jesus said.  I have lent money, let others use tools, or borrowed furniture items and never had them returned.  I wanted to ask some for a return but did not have the opportunity.  Thankfully, I have never had someone to ask me for my house.  I have never had anyone to ask me for my bank account or my car.  I might remember Jesus’ words if that happened, but I doubt if I would willingly turn over anything to that person.  Even if the person quoted Jesus’ statement from Luke 6, and scolded me for my disobedience, it would not move me to gift him with those items.  Would I justify myself for not honoring that possible freeloader?  More than likely.  Was Jesus talking about that kind of experience?  Probably not.  Yet, there are some who would not question that individual, but freely give it all, then step aside without question, believing he was doing God’s will.  Maybe so.

Most people find letters in their mailbox each week asking for money.  Most requests are lawful, and they are doing a legitimate work.  Yet, I do not respond to all although I have helped a few.  The problem with some is that they want a certain amount each month rather than a one-time contribution.  Was Jesus saying in Luke 6 that I must help because I am asked?  Some will ask because they know they can make enough money on a street corner in less time than working to earn that same amount.   Paul told the Thessalonian church that if a man would not work, he should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  Was Paul contradicting Jesus.  Perhaps we are missing the context of both passages.

So, despite certain circumstances not being discussed in a passage, there are times and conditions where some people do not deserve our help.  These are not the people Jesus is referring to.  Jesus fed 3,000 on one occasion and 5,000 on another.  Yet, he did not continue to feed them.  When the free food was no longer available, their hearing ability dried up and they left.  Out of all those thousands, the only remaining number was 12 (John 6:67).  Did Jesus contradict his own teaching?  No, again context must be examined.

There are preachers who will tell their audience that if they will give him one hundred dollars, God will return two hundred to them.  So, people will respond with that amount of cash or more.  When it is not doubled after a month or more and they complain, they hear the rest of the story.  “You were not rewarded because you had doubts.”  The preacher is a hundred dollars richer and the giver has been religiously scammed.  So, be careful what you hear or believe (Mark 12:22; 1 John 4:1).  There are people who may ASK who have no intentions of working for a living.  If you feel compelled to give, that is your choice.  However, you may find that person has friends who also know how to ASK!  Each passage has its own context and there is a reason behind what is being said.  Too often people miss that context and end up believing something different from what was being taught.  I could be wrong on that, and if so, I’ll turn the other cheek so it can be slapped! 

TRUE OR FALSE?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 12-10-2020

According to 1 Corinthians 3 and 6 God dwells within the saint.  That is one of the big differences between one who is a saved sinner and another who is a non-saved or alien sinner.  Sometimes we used phrases which are inherited from others rather than from scripture.  Check out the following and determine whether scripture teaches it, or it originated from those who are the “others”?  If you believe a statement is from scripture, document the passage that states it.

We often give our reason for going to the church building, is so we may “worship God.”  That purpose sounds reasonable, even “scriptural.”  Yet is it actually stated in the New Testament?   

1). The church building is not equal to the Jewish Temple, requiring that one must go to that location to be in God’s presence (John 4:19-21)?  True or False? 

2). Scripture never restricts worship to a specific location, day, nor number present?  True or False? 

3). Most English translations of the New Testament never use the word “worship” showing it is the purpose for that Christian assembly?  True or False? 

4). Although God may be there when two or three believers come together, that passage does not imply that such numbers must exists for God to put in His appearance (Matthew 18:20)?   True or False?

5). When one is added to the saved by God, God takes up His abode in that individual?  True or False?

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  . . . for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV).

6). When God adds you to the saved, He cleans you up and continues to cleanse you so you may continue to be a “holy temple” or dwelling place for Him?  True or False?

7). You do not have to travel anywhere nor cover any distance to be in God’s presence?  He lives IN you!  True or False?

8). If you have an argument with your wife, husband, children, or parents, God is there?  True or False?

9). If you lose your temper, God is there?  True or False? 

10). If you pray, even with your eyes wide open and you do not bow your head, God is there.  If you sing along with the Gaither’s, God is there.  True or False? 

11). You may ignore Him, but He is still there.  You may think He does not know what you are thinking, but He is still there.   True or False? 

12). Before you arrive at the church building, God was and is in you.  When you are in the church building, God is in you.  When you leave the church building, God is in you.   Where you go, God is in you.  True or False?

13). God is in you when you are in the Bible class.  God is in you when you are in the church auditorium or sanctuary.  God is in you before, during, and after the preacher speaks.  If you go where you hope no one sees you, God is there.  You cannot run, drive, or fly fast enough to leave him behind.  He is living in you!  True or False?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV).

14). God knows when you are good, bad, or in-between.  He expects you to remember that you are a sinner, but you are a redeemed sinner (1 John 1:5-10)?  True or False? 

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV).

15). Jesus took ALL your sins upon himself and in exchange, you received from him his righteousness.  Remember this and rejoice.  You belong to Him!  True or False?

THE WAR THAT DID NOT END ALL WARS!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 12-07-2020

Seventy-nine years ago, the sun made its usual appearance on that specific Sunday morning.  That day would be different.  Some would never see the sun rise or set again.  It was almost 8 am.  Some were sleeping in.  Others were early risers, looking for their Sunday paper.  There were some parents planning with family to attend Sunday School and maybe church services.  For military installations, it was just another Sunday.  No drills were scheduled which they had experienced earlier.

The Army Air Force was expecting a group of B-17 bombers from the United States.  Radar was in its infancy and the personnel assigned to it reported a number of airplanes approaching.  The officer in charged marked them off as the arriving B-17 bombers.  A female flight instructor was with her student that morning when they were overtaken by that armada seen on radar.  She and her student immediately pulled away from those aircrafts with their painted red circles.

Ships in the harbor were beginning to have their morning exercises and the raising of the U.S. Flag on their sterns.  The roar of numerous engines caused some to look skyward and question why some aircraft were flying too low.  Suddenly wings and cowling began lighting up with machine gun fire which took its toll on deck personnel.  The U.S. Pacific fleet was caught completely by surprise on that December 7th in 1941.  Few, if any of the ships’ anti-aircraft guns were loaded.  Airfields were shocked even more.  Planes had been parked close together.  Japanese Zeros strafed those bunched up aircraft, igniting them.  Like dominos falling, one exploding plane ignited another.  Less than a half dozen P-40 fighters were capable of responding.  They were successful in destroying some of the aggressors but were immediately set upon by the Japanese fighters.  The Japanese lost 29 planes, with 129 killed and 1 individual who was taken prisoner.  The Hawaiian airfields lost 160 planes destroyed and 150 damaged.   The incoming B-17 bombers found themselves in a hazardous position.  Some were destroyed.   

Japanese torpedo planes made their runs.  The battleship Arizona was hit and sunk with sailors below deck.  The Japanese were successful in damaging 19 ships anchored at Pearl Harbor with 8 being battleships.  Providentially, the three carriers were at sea.  2,403 service personnel lost their lives in that attack.  68 civilians were killed.  When the waves of Japanese aircraft returned to their ships, the harbor was left in shambles with fire and smoke as a testimony of their success.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately asked Congress to declare war on Japan and Germany.  America was now engaged, with its Allies, in World War II.  It would end when both Germany and Japan surrendered, and war was official declared to have ceased on September 2, 1945.  During those years, from 1939 to 1945, there was a total of 20 million military deaths and 40 million civilians.  Of that number, USA military deaths were 407,316.  Out of the 11,623,468 men and women who served in WW II, very few are still living today. 

For some who are younger, WW II is much like the Civil War.  It happened, but that is past history.  I remember as a preschooler that families did not want to see a Western Union employee walking to their front door.  He usually had bad news of a family member, serving in the military, losing his life in Europe or the Pacific.  Some do not know that Japan attempted to bring the war to the West Coast.  Hitler’s submarines sunk many ships leaving the East Coast to help supply England and our armed forces.  Hitler was closer to developing the atomic bomb before we did.  He did not have planes capable of reaching our shores to bomb New York or Washington, D.C., but desired that capability.  Japanese war decisions that went sour gave the USA and Allies some advantages which were sorely needed.  A positive picture was not being painted for the USA in the early part of the war in the Pacific.  The Battle of the Bulge in Europe could have been in Hitler’s favor and devastating to our war effort.

Although some might argue negatively, God did favor the USA and Allies.  No nation is perfect.  All make mistakes.  Allies become antagonistic while former enemies become friends.  However, bad decisions have led to further conflict rather than peace.  Hitler had a unique way of squelching objections to his dreams of establishing a world kingdom.  Such individuals rise up from time to time to destroy freedom for others while giving special privileges to themselves.  History often repeats itself.  Lessons from such are seldom learned, only forgotten until reminded in adverse ways.  WW II would not be the war to end all wars.  Why?  Man is successful in being his own worst enemy.

THE APPOINTMENT YOU WILL NOT MISS

My Thoughts. . .

11-30-2020

When I start my computer, I usually check my Email.  Among the “letters” is a notice from one of the funeral homes.  They announce who died that day, the time of visitation, the service, and what funeral establishment is doing it.  Most days the majority listed are past 70.  Do the young die too?  Yes, but usually it is due to an accident, an overdose, anger-related, or disease.  The rest?  The Hebrew writer sums it up with, “It is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). 

It is interesting how people face death.  Some are concerned about eternity and what their judgment will be.  Will they receive a favorable announcement or a dreaded one?  Are they hoping for “Well done” but expecting “Depart from me”?  Do they envision bartering with the Lord, using anything good they did as a leverage to get in?  Are they expecting God to have a blindness that cloaks the sinful way they enjoyed living?

Some people do not want to prepare for that appointment because IF you do not talk about it, it will not happen!  Some bring that day sooner by stressing over it.  Others hope their works are sufficient to force God to overlook their shortcomings as He fills their sinful gap with a small gift of grace.  Some will depend completely upon their accomplishments.  Some believe their faith and works are so far ahead of the average disciple that God will greet them with a special smile.  Despite one’s attitude, when appearing before Jesus, saint or sinner will bow before him.  Their “righteousness” will evaporate when compared to his gift of blood.

Some will die who believe they are prepared.  Paul says, “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).  Reality will humble us, driving us beyond stopping on our knees.  Some picture God as an angry parent displeased because of our failure to be perfect.  Due to that imperfection, rather than viewing God’s face being filled with love, those individual see Him with displeasure motivated by anger.  Believers may quote John 3:16 without flaw but their understanding and appreciation will have its shortcomings.  Reality will suddenly reveal itself making all totally aware that Jesus saves, and it is his righteousness which we have received that causes God to smiles (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am going to die.  Excise, medication, the hospital, nor physicians can stop it.  I may live longer than you, but both of us have an appointment.  We will leave everything behind, whether it is family, friends, property, or things.  Not even our body will accompany us.  Despite the eloquent things that may be said about us, regardless of the inscription upon our marker, even if we received plagues, honors, and rewards, it will all be meaningless when we take our last breath.  The only thing worthwhile is whether or not we died to sin, were washed in the blood of Jesus, and were added to the body of Jesus by God.  If we wish to stand before Jesus without sin, we have to be bloodied before we die.

INVALID PRAYERS?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 12-03-2020

“Let us pray.”  If you grew up going to “church,” you have heard that phrase countless times.  Most knew it was a signal to bow one’s head until the “Amen” was stated.  Although most believers know that prayer is offered to God the Father, we have been taught that it must indirectly go through Jesus our mediator.  Therefore, tradition requires before the “Amen” that the person offering the prayer must say, “In Jesus’ name.” or an equivalent before ending it.  If the reader has ever heard someone lead a prayer but end it without saying those three words, it seemed to make that prayer a vain exercise.  One might remark that “it takes the ‘worship’ out of ‘prayer.’”

Most people believe that every action involved in their “church service” is the way first century believers did it.  Amazingly, some “church goers” do not know what worship is.   Some have a “hand-me-down” faith.  Because parents, grandparents, kin, and friends have practiced something for several generations, that guarantees it is “biblical” in their thinking.  This fault is found in all churches.

Must one end a prayer with “in the name of Jesus” or “Christ” for that prayer to be valid?  The Jerusalem church’s prayer in Acts 4:23-31 does not contain that ending nor is an “Amen” mentioned.  Those who read the passage assume those actions are there and mentally add them to it.  No one insists that the Jerusalem church’s prayer is invalid because that ending fails to be there.  Why not?  Luke’s inclusion is there because he was inspired.  The New Testament fails to give us a “church prayer” being offered where they end with “in the name of Jesus”?  If a prayer is without God’s authority if it does not end with those words, then the Jerusalem church prayed in an unscriptural or invalid way.  When someone today criticizes a prayer without that familiar ending, he is being critical of the Holy Spirit who filled those brethren to pray without that traditional ending.  If one would not criticize the Holy Spirit, he should not be negative to one who is following the example of the prayer of brethren in the first century.   If we believe that the Bible must be our authority for everything we do “in church,” then either 1) we are guilty of ignoring our own rule, 2) the Bible allows us to ignore some rules which God has demanded and this is one of them, 3) we may deem a Bible example to be invalid for us due to cultural changes, or 4) the biblical example is not a “binding” example, it is just an incident that happened.  Of course, if we select one of those rules, then we are obligated to show how it does not apply to Acts 4:23-31 or Acts 20:7 and other such passages.

Some believe it is a sin to address Jesus personally in prayer.  We are told that all requests are to be directed to the Father, NEVER the Son.  Although family, friends, and followers could converse with Jesus until his ascension, after that event, we are informed that all personal conversations stopped.  Someone may ask, “What about Stephen addressing Jesus in Acts 7?  Some discount this as a “prayer” and redefine it as a “conversation.”  We are also told that it was offered during the day of miracles.  If we cannot perform miracles, we cannot pray as Stephen did.  Strange, I have always thought a prayer was having a conversation with God.

It is strange that one cannot speak directly to Jesus, whether it is called a conversation or a prayer, and say, “Thank you.”  We are told that the individual must 1) speak directly to the Father, 2) make his request only to the Father, and 3) the Father turns and delivers the “thanks” to Jesus. If that is so, that would make the Father the intercessor between the one who prays and Jesus.  1) The person prays through Jesus.  2) He ignores the intercessor and puts his “thanks” in the hands of the Father through the work of the intercessor.  3) The Father turns to Jesus and informs him he has been “thanked” by the one who offered that “Thank you” through him (Jesus).  4) Supposedly the intercessor (Jesus) does not know that the “Thank you” is for him, but faithfully delivers the message, conversation, or prayer to the Father.  5) Before the action is ended, the Father informs Jesus that the “Thank you” is for him.  6) Jesus finally learns he has been thanked by the one who said the prayer.  7) Jesus asks the Father, “Why didn’t the person just say, ‘Thank you’ to me as his intercessor rather than going at it in this round-about-way?”  8) The Father reminds Jesus that once he ascended back to heaven, it became a sin for a person to speak directly to him.  It would be an invalid prayer if he said anything at all to the intercessor! 

Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath, expel a deep sigh and then announce, “Let us bow your heads and pray.”

NEGATIVES THAT BECOME POSITIVES

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-23-2020

In my last semester in college I needed a few credits to graduate.  So, I picked out a class to supply my needs, which hopefully would not require a lot of “homework.”  It was the professor’s last year to teach his psychology class.  The required reading would be from an unusual source: Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer.”  In the first meeting the professor touted “Tom Sawyer” as the best book on the subject because it was presented in a simple, straight-forward way.  I was reacquainted with “Tom Sawyer” and the professor presented him in a different light.  Of all my classes in those four years, that class was more informative, and I never once nodded off nor skipped a class.  I was not alone in my enjoyment of that Tuesday and Thursday study.

If I had not needed those credits to graduate, I would never have taken that class.  I had already read “Tom Sawyer.”  Who uses Mark Twain’s material for a college textbook?  How does THAT book fit in with the subject of psychology?  I thought the entire subject was a joke, but I needed the credits.  Isn’t it amazing how life throws something at you which helps rather than hinders?  Would you call that “the providence of God”?

When I was growing up, from time to time my mischief would end with mother displaying a switch and telling me to “bend over.”  Before that switch did its best to drive the devil from me, mom usually stated, “This is going to hurt me more that it does you.”  I thought she was crazy.  How could that be true when I was on the receiving end?

As I grew older and became a parent, I gained some of my mother’s wisdom.  I regret not allowing more of that wisdom to sink in.  Although “switching” hurt, I desired it rather than “a good talking.”  Whip me twice, but do not pull out a chair and tell me to sit down and listen to a ten- or fifteen-minute lecture!  A switching stung, but it was over after a few swift strokes.  Talking?  It seemed to be eternal.  If your responses were not correct, the talking went into another endless eternity.  Without knowing it at the time, both kinds were shaping my future.

Discipline your son in his early years while there is hope. If you don’t you will ruin his life” (Proverbs 19:18 TLB, also Cf. Proverbs 22:6, 15; 23:13-14; 29:15, 17).

We all make mistakes.  Most are regretted.  Yet even those are teaching pearls, that if understood, will reward our future rather than drowning us in it.  People we meet, places where we live and work, problems introduced and solved, our reaction to daily hinderances, and the decisions we make are steppingstones that can either build our future or rip it apart.  Daniel did “jail time” but he used it to enhance his future.  Few if any have a smooth sailing through life.  It is how we deal with those potholes that determines the kind of outlook we develop in living our tomorrows.

Peter told Jesus that the Lord could depend upon his support.  He attempted to demonstrate it by cutting off Malchus’ ear.  Others might deny Jesus, but not Peter.  However, one question from a slave girl and his defenses crumbled and cursing poured freely from his lips to seal that denial.  Yet even this reaction was a steppingstone to greater service in the Lord’s kingdom.

We needed those “paddling” times or “talks” to help us grow up and faced the future.  What seemed bad at one time produced gratitude at another because it sent us in the right direction.

(My apologies.  I was ready to paste this “Thought” Monday but an interruption caused me to forget.  -RH)

AN INFORMATION LETTER

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-26-2020

They had just moved to the city.  They had also found where the Lord’s people were meeting upon the first day of the week.  They were eager to attend and become acquainted with other like-minded folks.  They had been recently converted by listening to the preacher in their former city.  He had told them about this congregation.

They introduced themselves to each member.  They thought some were not as friendly after they mentioned who had converted them.  They quickly learned that even though the church met together in the same location, unity may have been preached, but it was not being practiced.  They felt an immediate kinship with those who acknowledged that the same preacher who taught us was responsible for them becoming saints.  They also felt the coolness from the other three groups.  This confused these newcomers because they too supposedly followed bonified preachers and Jesus.  Since no division existed between those teaching individuals, why the disruption here?

They learned to watch where they sat.  If they happened to sit among the other groups, they would not share the bread nor the fruit of the vine with them.  This caused them to miss partaking and going home hungry.  Some even made derogatory remarks against their former preacher, questioning the validity of him being a true follower of Jesus.  It bothered them that some were drinking too much wine during communion and leaving the assembly drunk.

Another shocking problem grabbed their attention.  The problem was a son had taken his father’s wife from him and the two were living in a sinful relationship.  Not even the unbelievers did such a thing.  Their neighbors mentioned this when they tried to speak to them about Jesus.  The additional problem was that members shrugged this incident off because the man was not a part of their group.  He apparently had a lot of influence in the group he belonged to, so no one was challenging his behavior.

In no time they learned all of the problems in the congregation.  Those who were considered sound and conservative were flaunting their superiority over those with lesser knowledge.  Inspired prophets were ignored by those groups which they did not belong to.  Some claimed their miraculous gift made them more important than gifts received by others.  Confusion reigned in the assembly with the prophets, language speakers, and interpreters all attempting to speak at the same time and to be heard above the others.  Then there were the married women butting in and asking their husband questions in a loud disturbing manner.  The way some were partaking of the Lord’s supper was shameful, even disgusting.  One had to wonder why they even came to the assembly to partake in such a fashion?

Yet, they were the Lord’s church and there was no hint that any of the four groups should leave and establish their own unique assembly.  In fact, anyone who was taught and added to Christ was to attend that assembly each week (Hebrew 10:25).  Besides, the Holy Spirit continued to indwell them, and they were THE body of Christ in Corinth.  They were God’s holy Temple, and they had the Spirit’s gifts to prove it.  Yet, something needed to be done about the disruptive behavior, the error, and the false practices found among God’s children in Corinth.

Seeing this need, a letter was written to inform Paul about what had and was happening among the membership.  I am sure he will remember us.

Signed,

The Chloe family

THE UNITY THAT WASN’T!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-19-2020

How sound must a congregation be, to continue to be the body of Jesus?  How far “gone” must a congregation be before another congregation may stop having fellowship with it?  How “unsound” must a congregation be before another congregation may declare it is apostate? 

If the church of God in Corinth existed in our city today, how would that fact bear on our answer to those questions and our fellowship with them? 

Corinth had members who were divided into one of four denominated groups.  This group psychology affected their fellowship, yet they continued to be one congregation.  When Paul wrote to them, he addressed them in the singular form as “THE church” and as “THE body of Christ.”  He did not gloss over their error but sent information on how to correct it.  Yet, he did not withdraw from them nor did he refer to them as “apostate,” “liberal,” or “digressive.”

Despite their error in doctrine, their divisive actions, and their disposition of arrogance, he commanded withdrawing fellowship from only ONE of their members.  Not one single Gentile nor Jewish assembly described them as “apostate” nor threatened them with withdrawal actions if they did not repent immediately.

To their credit, they did not scatter, establishing four different denominations.  God continued to dwell within them, to inspire them, to perform healings through them, and continued recognizing them as His children despite all short comings.  Paul had to write a second letter because they did not correct all of their practices nor false doctrine with the first one.   Yet, neither epistle sees Paul either labeling or withdrawing from them.

For a person to claim to be “biblical,” but withdraws fellowship when that is not Paul’s instruction, fails in practicing Paul’s course with the Corinthian church.

When one congregation refuses to fellowship another, yet the one withdrawn from looks a lot better than the church in Corinth, is the withholding of fellowship a restoration of New Testament Christianity or a manmade system of error?

The divisive nature of the Corinthian church caused the four groups to not wait on one another during Communion.  The groups would not share the fruit of the vine nor the unleavened bread.  This caused some to remain hungry while those who would not share the wine, consumed it themselves.  This resulted in some going home hungry while others went home drunk.  Paul rebukes and informs them that they should stay at home since they would not share.  The same could be said about those who fail to have fellowship with one another.  To withdraw fellowship from another is something that Paul refused to do.  This did not cause Paul to be charged by other congregations of fellowshipping error.  Rather than follow Paul’s example and continuing to have fellowship with one another, today there seems to be a disunity unity.

IS THAT REALLY IN THE BIBLE?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-16-2020

From time to time I see articles challenging the reader to get back to “calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways.”  Although that phrase is not found in our Bible, it has a noble ring to it.  The problem is that most who use it, though honest and sincere in statement, are inconsistent in practice. 

One seldom sees written articles that warn us about “saying but not doing.”  It is easier to criticize the actions of others rather than be the brunt of that criticism ourselves.  When presenting our case to another, we want to be positive rather than negative.  The glow of the positive always outshines the dullness of the negative.  What salesman begins by pointing out why you should not buy his product?  So, we want to teach truth, even if it means overlooking our negative practices. 

Since we are individuals without perfection, there are inconsistencies that cling to us all.  Many make the bold statement, “We only teach the Bible.”  The problem is in failing to recognize that “truth” is not truth just because we believe it.  The human side is disastrous in its failure to reach perfection.  N.B. Hardeman pointed out three phases which all congregations go through.  1) Going into trouble, 2) Coming out of trouble, or 3) Being in the middle of trouble.  Perfection is unreachable by each assembly in life’s journey.  Jesus is the perfect head of the church, but the membership is made up of sinners who must be constantly cleansed (1 John 1:7-10).

Some congregations tout their faithfulness and believe their hilltop light is more brilliant than other assemblies.  That may be so, and we are happy for the light which they shine toward others.  Jesus himself spoke of those who had different degrees of work.  Yet, there is a lingering truth which should humble those who wear their badge of pride.  We are all sinners who should readily admit that imperfection and continue looking to Jesus for our cleansing.

Some may take pride in the fact that their consistency is better than that which is possessed by other congregations.  Although I appreciate and love the elders, deacons, evangelists, teachers, and members at Campbell Street, I realize we are inconsistent because we lack perfection.  Jesus came to save lost sinners and the “sinner” epitaph remains, but thankfully he made us “saved sinners.”

Do we actually find that what we do is specifically expression in the Bible?  No.  We take our actions and search for something similar in the Bible and proclaim that we are “doing a Bible action in a Bible way.”  Our proclamation makes it a Bible action?  If something is not “named” in our Bible, we refer to it as being “necessarily implied” or “inferred” therein.  For example, others use the term “Sunday School” whereas we refer to it as “Bible classes.”  Neither phrase is found in scripture.  Anglicans introduced us to that practice over four hundred years ago.  We refer to the furniture which holds the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine as “the Lord’s table.”  Since we have had house churches since February, which house assembly is the one using “the Lord’s table”?  We allow time and tradition to make a piece of furniture be that “table” rather than the two elements used as the Lord’s supper.    

Some of our “church” songs and beliefs about the church building are man created rather than Bible based.  Certain rooms are “holier” than other rooms.  We reserve one room for worship and another for teaching.  We never ask for a Bible passage that demands such.  Manmade rules regulate what is not acceptable in one room but allowed in another.  We misunderstand Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 11 and believe the entire congregation must be in one room to validate the Lord’s supper.  Covid-19 threw that practice out the window, but it will be restored once a vaccine is found.  Sometimes habit is stronger than scripture.  The problem is in not knowing the difference.

The fault of the first century church continues to be one that lingers today.  Sometimes believers think their practice is blessed by God and is required of all.  All traditions that some wish to bind today originated years after the first century.  Time helps a a tradition to evolve into a doctrine.  Some beliefs do not take much time to make that transition.  Religious gullibility often spreads faster than a pandemic.

So, when we do things that are not named in the Bible, but we criticize another who follows our practice, why are we not just as guilty as they are?         

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